Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Acid Verse

My words are a corrosive agent
Acid on the skin of an innocent
My words disfigure his unblemished visage
My cadence diction tenor
Are crimes against humanity
For which my ineluctable pardon
Is harshest of all penalties.

Monday, November 29, 2010

100 words on American womanhood, weight - and doughnuts

I'm crazy. Gone. Crazy. Daydreams of doughnuts. My ass. Made of doughnuts. Thirty. Forty. Fat grams. Stuck to my tongue. Can’t speak. It's okay. What would I say? My ass is made of doughnuts.

Let me be earth or let me be nothing. Thin, strong pine.

Gone. Doughnuts. Gone. Were they ever there? Who cares? They're gone. And I'm still dreaming...of cows. Chewing on my thighs. Taking what's theirs. Take it. I'll have none of it. Chocolate. Riccotta. Haagen-Daas. Take it back. My thighs are made of cows.

Let me be earth or let me be nothing.

Nothing is beautiful.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

100 Words: A Stubborn Grilled Cheese Sandwich in Dubai

The Arab tradition of hospitality is unparalleled. After a long flight, Hubby and I are spent. We are typically of the foodie persuasion, but tonight only American comfort food will do. Room service offers several Western staples – burgers and such. It is not on the menu, but I request a simple grilled cheese sandwich. The kitchen rep cheerfully takes the order.
After fifteen minutes, no sandwich, but a call from a distraught cook: “Madam, we have endeavored six times to make your grilled cheese sandwich. We apologize, but we cannot manage to keep the cheese from melting.” I love Dubai.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

You Can't Swing a Dead Cat

This short narrative is based on a true story that happened at the diner where I once worked as a teen. Names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent. :)

You Can’t Swing a Dead Cat
For Mom, who listens, remembers, and laughs at all the wrong moments ;)
It’s just before seven on a Sunday morning and by some act of Jesus Buddha Mohammed George Clooney and that Indian elephant dude I walk through the kitchen door of Daisy’s 24-Hour Diner, semi-lucid and on time for my usual double shift. Thank you, holy beings. I need these sixteen hours.
As I enter the kitchen, I offer a collective “Hey” to the cooks and quickly notice a missing voice in their chorus of replies. “Where’s Jack?” I ask. The cooks respond with shaking heads and the sizzle of bacon on the skillet.
Jack is one of my two favorite coworkers. The other is his wife, Marcie, but mostly because I figure if she’s married to Jack, she must be good people. She waits tables at Daisy’s on the weekends.
I have always been fond of Jack, not just because he’s the only cook who has never tried to get in my pants, but also on account of his being a pretty decent guy. Worships Jesus and that sort of thing. He’s nuts about Marcie and their two kids, Molly and Minnie. One of the last family men around in this town of deadbeats. At work you can’t be around Jack very long without piss-your-pants laughing at his theatrical renditions of old jazz songs which are always accompanied by his flamboyant air piano. I like Jack – everyone does.
 Restaurant folklore maintains that Jack is in fact a phenomenal pianist who was forced to abandon his studies at a prestigious music school when Marcie became pregnant with their first child, Molly, who has Down syndrome. Jack never talks about it, though, and if he ever minds the shitty hand he was dealt then the dude’s got a helluva poker face. In the early morning, when the rest of us are mired in a losing battle against our heavy eyelids, Jack’s infectious good humor provides our much-needed ammunition. So where is he, anyway? Jack never misses work. Musta caught that pig flu that everyone is freaking out about.
Now I’m not a morning person, nor do I smoke meth to get me going, like many of my coworkers at the diner. Daisy would rape and kill for us all to be tweakers. She calls us her worker ants, and I have often heard her carry on about how one junkie can do the job of three fuckin’ goodie-goodies. Still, Daisy endeavors to keep us sober folk awake via two slightly more palatable methods. First, there is the inexhaustible supply of coffee. We are welcome to as many helpings of Daisy’s cheap brew as we can stomach. But if a few cups of Joe fail to do the trick, there is always The Vivarin Drawer. This unassuming compartment is conveniently located in the semi-concealed waiter station, so that overworked employees can quickly pop a few pills while pouring soft drinks, counting their meager tips, or spitting into an ornery customer’s split pea soup.  
This morning I stick with a latte and a slice of chocolate cake. I love to eat cake in the morning because as the day progresses, I forget I’ve eaten it and thus feel no guilt when I wolf down another slice after lunch. I’m halfway through my sugary breakfast when Marcie comes storming into the waiter station, fork in hand and eyeing my dessert. Her usually soft, kind face now resembles a weapon of mass destruction, so I keep my mouth shut and my head down.
After Marcie has done with pillaging my pastry, I cautiously ask her about Jack. Marcie looks daggers at me for a few seconds, then gradually relaxes her facial features and whispers, “I’ll show you at break time.” Show me? Jesus, did she kill the guy? I begin to ask for an explanation, but Marcie shakes her head, hands me her fork, straightens her apron, and scurries off to greet Stack, one of her regulars.

Jack, Marcie, and their two little girls live a block away in a tiny red-brick bungalow, the only bright spot on an otherwise drab, treeless street. I hardly have time to admire their shining white window boxes bursting with hundreds of tiny purple and yellow flowers because Marcie is hastily leading me by the hand to a door at the side of the house which leads to the kitchen.
I almost stumble over them. Marcie catches me by the waist and we stand there silently for a moment, studying the two figures slumped on the linoleum floor. One is certainly dead, the other snoring loudly. Jack, who should be at Daisy’s right now, regaling us with dramatic renditions of Frank Sinatra hits, is passed out at our feet, cradling the fetid  remains of what I believe was once a tabby cat.  
“What the f–” Marcie interrupts me by unleashing a tsunami of her own profanities aimed squarely at the scene before us.
“It’s a fucking cat. A fucking dead cat on my kitchen floor! And he’s cleaning it up, that little shit! I’m done cleaning up his messes, goddamnit! He can do the fucking dishes, too, while he’s at it. And would it kill the bastard to take out the fucking trash now and then? I’m done. I’m so fucking done.”
Jack stirs a bit at the commotion, hugs the mangled carcass tighter, and continues sleeping. The kitchen reeks of dead kitty and I now regret having scarfed down that second slice of cake on the way here. “What happened?” I murmur as Marcie’s torrential cursing begins to let up. What follows now is my translation of her reply – minus the copious expletives of the justifiably fed-up housewife, plus a few details from Jack, who eventually regained consciousness and obligingly filled me in.
A few members of the kitchen crew decided to get together Saturday evening for a guys’ night – you know, Texas Hold ‘Em, dirty jokes, and a few twelve-packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Jack was tempted to join them, but Molly and Minnie had the pig flu – I knew the pig flu was involved somehow! – and Marcie could use some help at home. So Jack declined the invitation.
Just as the couple was setting out the ingredients for Marcie’s famous chicken tacos, the phone rang. Danny, the cook who was hosting the soon-to-be-infamous poker night, was calling to see if Jack had changed his mind about attending.
“Sorry, man, but I can’t make it tonight. Next time for sure,” Jack replied to Danny’s jovial coaxing.  The hint of regret in her husband’s voice produced a pang of guilt in Marcie’s kind and generous gut. She knew Jack was staying home for her, and she’d been looking forward to having a family dinner, even if the kids were likely to puke or shit everything up later. But Marcie forced a wide smile and insisted that her hubby spend an evening out with the boys. She could handle things at home, and would be sure to save him some leftovers.
“You sure you’re okay with this?” Jack asked just before he left, as we all do when we already know we’re getting our way but want to sound polite just the same. “I’m sure,” Marcie replied sweetly, reciting her lines with an impeccable air of sincerity while secretly wishing Jack would change his mind and stay home with her. “Just don’t stay out too late. We have an early day tomorrow. And don’t drink too much. You know how you get when you drink too much.”
Jack called just after eleven that night, as Marcie was mopping up vomit from the bathroom floor. Molly had missed the toilet. Meanwhile Minnie was calling to her mother from the next room, begging for some water and an extra blanket. And now Jack was on the phone, telling Marcie he needed a ride home because the poker game had morphed into a drinking contest and consequently he and his buddies were in no shape for driving.
“Can’t you just call a cab?”an exasperated Marcie suggested. Of course she would not be so lucky, as Jack had already lost the contents of his wallet in the card game. Marcie called her mother to come watch the girls and reluctantly set off to pick up her inebriated spouse.
“I’m so sorry, Marcie. So, so, so sorry, baby. So, so –”
“Just shut up and get in the car.”
“Really, honey. I’m so sorry. Please forgive–”
“Okay. But I really am sorry.”
It would be a fifteen-minute drive back to their house, and after the first three, Marcie had heard enough slurred so-so-so-sorrys for one night. “I swear, Jack, if you open your mouth to say one more word, I’m stopping the car and making you walk home.”
“But I’m sorry, sweetheart. I really am so, so sorry.” The little sedan screeched to a halt.
“That’s it! Get out, Jack. You’re walking home.”
“What? Come on, baby–”
“No, I warned you. Get out.”
Jack half walked out, half fell out of the passenger seat and slammed the car door so hard it shook the entire vehicle. “FINE!” He yelled after Marcie as she sped away. “FINE! Just leave me here! The fuck I care!”
A few hours later, Marcie was finally drifting off to sleep, knowing that shortly the alarm clock would be shouting at her to commence another long day. But the alarm was not what startled poor Marcie out of bed. It was a pitiable performance of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” reverberating from the kitchen. Jack was home.
Marcie raced rapidly to the kitchen to silence her husband before he woke up the children. It was a futile move, since what happened next made her scream louder than her intoxicated spouse had been singing. Jack, crooning at the top of his lungs, was waltzing about the kitchen. His obliging dance partner was a fresh specimen of roadkill he had encountered on his trek home.

Upon hearing Marcie shriek with horror, Jack stopped dancing and turned to face his stunned wife. His eyes had a crazed, feral look to them. He stared intently at Marcie for several seconds, and then began to raise the bloody feline over his head.
“Jack?” Marcie tried to snap her husband out of his apparent hysteria. Too late. Jack hurled the carcass to the floor with a force that caused kitty parts to scatter helter-skelter across the linoleum.
That,” exclaimed Jack, gesturing at the gory display before him, “THAT is my heart. And YOU broke it!”
The frenzied fighting that consequently ensued between drunken husband and disgusted housewife woke the children. The collective screaming of all four family members woke the neighbors. The neighbors, upon discovering the chaotic scene unfolding at the little red-brick bungalow next door, and finding themselves at an utter loss for an explanation, called the police. The cops were unable to discern whether an actual crime had taken place. Had Jack killed and dismembered the family pet? The tiny kitchen where Marcie had, only hours ago, thanklessly prepared her tasty chicken tacos was now crammed with an assortment of bewildered bystanders, feuding family members, and an inexplicably dead cat.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Winter of our Disconnect

I was late to board the Facebook train because I felt that the practice of “social networking” was the height of narcissism. Think about it – I create a profile about me. On that profile I post pictures of myself. I share my interests, my accomplishments, my life with the world. I do not merely provide incessant and unsolicited updates to my “friends” about the mundane details of my life; I actually expect them to “like” the banal contents of those updates and comment copiously about my good or bad day, my political candidate of choice, my new addition to my virtual farm, my latest vacation or desire for a vacation.  
Yes, Facebook is the pinnacle of egotism. And yet last winter I joined the half-billion Facebook users around the globe and created my own profile. Here are my thoughts on why, and to what end.
I was lonely. My marriage was dangling precariously over a precipice and my few real friends were absorbed in their own legitimate concerns. Facebook allows us to adopt a nebulous standard for what constitutes a friend. Where previously I’d had two or three, I suddenly had over fifty “friends,” who actually responded to my self-important ramblings and invited me to engage with theirs.
I have always been the odd girl out. There was something peculiarly validating about receiving a “friend request,” on more than one occasion, from one of the popular girls from high school who once teased me relentlessly about my mustache and monobrow. Even more gratifying was accepting her request and learning that she was now fat and wasted and had unsightly facial hair of her own, while my own physical appearance had somewhat improved since those days – particularly because I had learned to wax! But the greatest victory, of course, was that as casually as I had “friended” her, I could now “de-friend” her with the click of my glorious mouse. It was exhilarating to be the rejecter, and not the rejected, for once.
But Facebook is a pitiless mêlée, and no one survives unscathed. I have been de-friended, too. I am never surprised when it happens – the de-friender is usually someone I would never really want to talk to in person. What does astonish me is that it nevertheless produces a pang of…something…in me every time it happens.
I want to know what happened to him. Who among us F-bookers has never scoured the social network in search of an old flame? Liars.
I want to be remembered. I want them to know what happened to me. My fear is not that I will be forgotten, but that I offer nothing to forget. Thus my Facebook profile, and now more so this blog, is a bottle wherein I childishly stuff my scribbles and hurl them into the blue, naively hopeful that someone will find it – and in doing so, find me.

I want to connect. And so do you. My narcissistic musings about nothing in particular are always, at least implicitly, about something in particular. So are yours. Though ostensibly our posts are an extension of our egos, they in fact function as our audacious attempts at extending our hearts beyond our ribcages and into a world resplendent with strange rhythms, in anxious anticipation of finding one that sounds like our own.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


The blushing western horizon reveals a Tuesday afternoon
ashamed at being caught peeping
through a hole in the door to Luna’s dressing room.
The crimson culprit is hauled away weeping
Vainly pleading for a glimpse of the illustrious moon.